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JustSpeak to Launch in Christchurch on 28 May

JustSpeak to Launch in Christchurch on 28 May

JustSpeak will officially launch in Christchurch next week on Wednesday 28 May with a forum asking the question: Who Are Our Prisoners?

JustSpeak is a non-partisan network of young people speaking up for a new generation of thinkers who want a safer, fairer, and more inclusive society. JustSpeak thinks it is crucial that all young people have the opportunity to be a part of a national conversation about our criminal justice system. We are excited to expand our reach into the South Island.

The forum features guest speakers, Dr Jarrod Gilbert, Sociologist and Author of "Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand", Verna McFelin, Founder & Chief Executive of Pillars, a charity for children of prisoners, andRoger Kemp, Facilitator of Community Justice Panels, a grassroots partnership between Community Law Canterbury and Police in Christchurch.

The speakers at the Christchurch launch will share their insight into the cycles of crime, youth risk factors and the possibility of rehabilitation.

One of the organisers of this forum, Forest Taane Morton, says this is an opportunity for young people to be heard on an important issue for our generation.

Ms Taane Morton says, "Our perceptions of prisoners are often incorrect, but are shaped by the dominant, retributive public discourse about them.If we want our justice system to be based on evidence and experience, we need to be asking the question, 'who are our prisoners?' and challenging prejudices and assumptions which harm our pursuit for a fairer New Zealand”.

Whilst this launch is decidedly youth-run and youth-led, we welcome anyone who is interested in contributing to a discussion about justice, Aotearoa style.

Wednesday’s event will be free, with kai provided. It will be held at 6:30pm at Bentleys, UCSA Events Centre, 90Ilam Rd, Christchurch. Media are welcome to attend.

In addition to introductory addresses and a panel discussion, there will be an opportunity for Q&A and discussion. For more information, please email justspeaknz@gmail.com.

JustSpeak empowers young people to speak out for change in the criminal justice system, informed by evidence and experience, towards a more just Aotearoa.Including young people in the national conversation brings, amongst other things, an imaginative outlook; a feeling of urgency; and a sense of hope.

Since forming at the beginning of 2011 in association with Rethinking Crime and Punishment, JustSpeak has established itself in Wellington and Auckland.

Our efforts have included holding free public forums in both cities, running two free camps for young people, collaborating to produce theatre productions around the country,campaigning to raise the age of the youth court jurisdiction, producing reports on Māori and the Criminal Justice System and our forthcoming Unlocking Prisons, submitting on bills before Parliament and organising consultations so that young people can share their views, notably on the Government’s Youth Crime Action Plan, and running drives to collect bras, toiletries and books for prisoners.


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